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President & Senior Scientist
Dr. Justina Ray has been President and Senior Scientist of Wildlife Conservation Society Canada since its incorporation in 2004. In addition to overseeing the operations of WCS Canada, Justina is involved in research and policy activities associated with land use planning and large mammal conservation in northern landscapes. Having worked for years in African and Asian tropical forests, North America has been her predominant geographic focus over the past two decades. Justina has been appointed to numerous government advisory panels related to policy development for species at risk and land use planning in Ontario and Canada. She was the co-chair of the Terrestrial Mammals Subcommittee of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) from 2009-2017 and is currently a member of the IUCN Taskforce on Biodiversity and Protected Areas. She has been editor or author of 3 books and numerous peer-reviewed articles, and is Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto (Faculty of Forestry) and Trent University (Biology Department) and Research Associate at the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Biology at the Royal Ontario Museum.
Director of Philanthropy
As the Director of Philanthropy, Biz leads fundraising and development for WCS Canada. Biz joined WCS Canada in December 2007. Prior to arriving at WCS Canada in 2007, she worked at Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC) as Director of US Programmes and at WWF Canada focusing on several conservation portfolios: Eastern Arctic marine mammals, Canadian Prairie wildlife, WWF Canadian endangered species and the Latin American Programme focussing on Central America, Brazil, Guyana and Cuba. Biz has a BA from Queen’s University at Kingston and a Masters of Environmental Studies (Biological Conservation) from York University, Toronto.
Director, Finance and Operations
While WCS Canada’s scientists focus on delivering conservation outcomes Gillian is responsible for ensuring WCS Canada is operating effectively, efficiently and sustainably, from financial management to human resources to regulatory compliance. Gillian comes to this role with a strong background in conservation with WCS. Since joining WCS in 2000, Gillian has led and collaborated on a diversity of projects, including; mapping the global Human Footprint, and rescaling this methodology to the Northern Appalachian Ecoregion, developing web-based conservation mapping tools, estimating rates of deforestation in Sumatra, mapping mandrill habitat use in Gabon, and the identification of wolverine range and caribou wintering grounds in Ontario. Gillian has a Masters degree in Geology and Mineral Exploration with extensive field experience ranging from the Highlands of Scotland and the mines of central Queensland, Australia, to the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile and a variety of gold exploration projects in Ghana, Mali and Eritrea. In addition, Gillian holds a Certificate in Conservation Biology from Columbia University, New York, an Advanced Diploma in GIS from the College of Geographic Sciences (COGS) in Nova Scotia, and a certificate in Human Resource Management from the Social Economy Centre of the University of Toronto. Gillian has a Masters degree in Geology and Mineral Exploration with extensive field experience ranging from the Highlands of Scotland and the mines of central Queensland, Australia to the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile and a variety of gold exploration projects in Ghana, Mali and Eritrea. In addition, Gillian holds, and a Certificate in Conservation Biology from Columbia University, an Advanced Diploma in GIS from the College of Geographic Sciences (COGS) in Nova Scotia, and a certificate in Human Resource Management for Not-For-Profits.
Manager, Finance and Operations
Marilyn Katsabas grew up in Toronto, Ontario and came to WCS Canada on a part-time basis in the fall of 2007. Marilyn has 20+ years administrative and bookkeeping experience previously working in both large corporate and small business environments. Marilyn has contributed to various community volunteer programs in the Toronto area.
Director of Revenue Development
Mike McClintock is WCS Canada’s Director of Revenue Development. He has worked as senior fundraising executive and consultant with a variety of international, national, and local charitable organizations and institutions in areas such as conservation and the environment, education, medical research, health care, international aid and development, arts and culture and social justice. Mike has a BA in sociology and political science from McGill and an MA in political science from the University of Toronto.
As Fundraising Associate, Priscila supports WCS Canada’s fundraising team to maintain and improve donor stewardship. Priscila has over 10 years of experience in fundraising, grant management and project coordination, most of them working in conservation organizations in Brazil and in Canada. She holds a bachelor's degree in Social Communication and postgraduate degrees in Business Administration and in Sustainability Management, where she dedicated her research project to the theme of payment for environmental services and biodiversity conservation. Before joining WCS Canada as Fundraising Associate, Priscila worked in a number of organizations, including the University of Calgary's Faculty of Science, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, BirdLife/SAVE Brasil and Siemens Brasil.
HR and Finance Administrator
Tina supports the WCS Canada Toronto office throughout the full scope of its Human Resource and Finance functions inclusive of recruitment, payroll, policy development/amendments, employee relations and all relating initiatives. Tina is also a part of the operations team, providing support to execute upcoming organizational goals and strategies. After graduating from York University with her Bachelor of Health Sciences, Tina has worked in an array of Administrative positions in both the corporate in non-profit sectors over the past 8 years; her roles have focused on providing support and development direction for Human Resource and Operational initiatives.
National Conservation Program
Martin von Mirbach
Director of Conservation Strategy
As Director of Conservation Strategy Martin plays a critical role in moving WCS Canada’s science to conservation action with an understanding of policy and decision making environments in Canada. He supports our regional conservation programs across the boreal as well as in the Arctic from his Ottawa-based location. He helps shape and implement our conservation policy work with a national scope, such as identifying Key Biodiversity Areas and properly valuing and conserving intact forests and peatlands across northern Canada, as well as supporting WCS international policy work, such as the development of a new framework for biodiversity at the CBD. Martin completed his Master's Degree in Philosophy at York University in Toronto. He has been active as a conservationist since the early 1990s, and has been Coordinator of the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Network, Sustainable Development Chair at the Centre for Forest and Environmental Studies, National Conservation Director at the Sierra Club of Canada, Vice President of Forest Stewardship Council Canada and Director of WWF-Canada's Arctic Program.
Cheryl Chetkiewicz is a Conservation Scientist. Her current program of work includes cumulative effects, environmental assessment, land use planning and policy, monitoring at community and regional scales, and engagement with Indigenous Peoples across our programs in Canada. More recently, Cheryl led Ontario's Northern Boreal program where her work focused on conserving the boreal region in the far north in Ontario through applied and field research on fish and wildlife. Cheryl has a PhD in Ecology from the University of Alberta where she developed models to design wildlife corridors to conserve grizzly bears and cougars. Cheryl is a board member of the Ontario Association for Impact Assessment. In addition to her current work with WCS Canada, she has worked with governments, Indigenous Peoples, and interested stakeholders on wildlife management and conservation in Alaska, the Northwest Territories, and Peru.
Canada KBA Coordinator
Dr. Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne supports the Canadian Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) Coalition to identify and map KBAs in Canada. Prior to joining WCS, Ciara worked as a researcher and consultant focused on understanding the different ways that people value and benefit from nature. Based in Montreal and affiliated with McGill University, she has engaged in research with colleagues in Canada and internationally on environmental management, system resilience, and futures thinking, and has authored over 20 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on these themes. Over the past decade, Ciara has also led the development of tools and methods to link science to the needs of decision-makers, with products that include an ecosystem services Toolkit for the Canadian government, and a mechanism for Technical and Scientific Cooperation for parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, developed in partnership with the Quebec Center for Biodiversity Science. Ciara completed her PhD in 2010 on the spatial analysis of ecosystem services and biodiversity across landscapes. This work was inspired by gaps identified in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, for which Ciara served as the coordinator of the Subglobal Assessment Working Group. Ciara also holds a graduate degree in tropical biology from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
KBA Canada Twitter
Jaime is responsible for supporting the WCS landscape programs, the KBA Canada initiative, and administering the W. Garfield Weston Fellowship Program. Jaime completed her MSc at McGill University, with a research focus on the conservation threats posed by aquatic invasive species. Her research involved comparing the ecological impacts of crayfish species and populations from disparate geographic locations and allowed Jaime to collaborate with scientists throughout eastern Canada, the northeastern USA, and Europe. She is a skilled field researcher with taxanomic expertise on marine and freshwater fishes and invertebrates.
Ontario Northern Boreal Program
Associate Conservation Scientist
Connie O’Connor is a freshwater ecologist and conservation biologist dedicated to finding conservation solutions for the globally important freshwater ecosystems of Canada’s boreal forests, and the people and the wildlife that rely on them. Connie leads WCS Canada’s research and conservation program in the Ontario Northern Boreal landscape. Some of her current program highlights include leading a lake sturgeon monitoring program in collaboration with Moose Cree First Nation; identifying priority areas for freshwater fish biodiversity using conservation planning tools; and applying research results to improve planning, management, and policy. Connie is also a member of the Freshwater Fish Specialist Subcommittee of COSEWIC, and an Adjunct Professor at Lakehead University. Before joining WCS Canada, Connie completed her PhD at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, where she used advanced telemetry and field physiology techniques to study how environmental stressors impact fish. Next Connie completed a postdoctoral fellowship at McMaster University, where she was awarded the prestigious Alice Wilson Medal from the Royal Society of Canada for outstanding academic qualifications in science.
Wolverine Conservation Scientist
Dr. Matt Scrafford is the Wolverine Conservation Scientist with Ontario Northern Boreal Landscape program. Matt works with government, industry, indigenous groups, and trappers to advance the understanding and conservation of wolverines in Ontario. Currently, Matt is using radiotelemetry and motion-sensor cameras in Red Lake to determine the effects of forestry on wolverine ecology at their southern range edge. Matt also is working with First Nations in Aroland and Slate Falls to document wolverine occurrence on their traditional land. He began his ecology career as an assistant on U.S. Forest Service wildlife research projects in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Along the way, he also worked wildland fire as a U.S. Forest Service Hotshot. He received his MSc at Montana State University where he studied the ecology of reintroduced beavers north of Yellowstone National Park. Matt received his PhD from the University of Alberta with a research focus on wolverine habitat selection, movement, foraging behaviour, and density in industrialized habitats in the Rainbow Lake and Birch Mountains areas of northern Alberta. This work was featured in the CBC Nature of Things documentary “Wolverine: Ghost of the northern forest”.
GIS Analyst and Spatial Data Manager
Meg Southee is the GIS Analyst and Spatial Data Manager for the Ontario Northern Boreal Landscape Program at WCS Canada. Her work focusses on harnessing the power of spatial information to address different research objectives for the terrestrial and freshwater research programs in Ontario. Using ArcGIS and the Python programming language, Meg develops geospatial tools and writes code to model environmental variables under future climate change scenarios. This information is used in tandem with human development cases to prioritize locations for protection of freshwater and terrestrial species. Meg has also created a series of story maps to highlight WCS Canada’s projects in a narrative and visual format, including one about
WCS Canada’s freshwater conservation research
and another about
caribou ecology and mineral exploration impacts.
Meg has worked with GIS and remote sensing technology for over 10 years and served as a board member for the Society for Conservation GIS. In 2017, Meg earned the distinction of Esri Certified ArcGIS Desktop Professional. She holds the following degrees: MSc. in Geography - Queen’s University, Advanced Diploma in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) - Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS), and BSc. Honours in Environmental Science - University of Guelph.
Dr. Gretchen Lescord is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the WCS Canada's Ontario Northern Boreal program examining contaminants in food fishes in the far north. Dr. Lescord's postdoctoral fellowship, co-supervised by Drs. John Gunn and Al Lock at Laurentian University, focuses on chromium which is a contaminant expected to be a growing concern in the far north of Ontario, as mining begins in the "Ring of Fire". This region is a crescent-shaped area of the far north that is rich in chromium and other valuable metals. However, monitoring chromium is a challenge because multiple forms naturally exist, including both nutritionally-essential (you'll find chromium in most multivitamins!) and toxic species. Dr. Lescord's project will focus on developing a laboratory method to differentiate these different types of chromium in food fish, which will enable monitoring of whether industrial activity increases the toxic forms, and will allow us to better understand impacts of chromium mining and smelting on the environment and human health. Dr. Lescord recently completed her PhD at Laurentian University, where she examined patterns of mercury contamination in food fishes from the Far North in Ontario. Her doctoral research was partly supported by a WCS Garfield Weston Fellowship.
Ontario Northern Boreal Freshwater Scientist
Claire joined the WCS team in May of 2019 as the interim freshwater research scientist in the Ontario Northern Boreal Landscape program. Claire completed her BSc and MSc at Carleton University: working with the National Wildlife Research Centre of Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Geomatics and Landscape Ecology Lab. Her work examined local and landscape effects of forestry on threatened bird species in the boreal forest of Northwestern Ontario. During her degrees she was a multi-year recipient of the Donald R. Wiles Scholarship in Environmental Science and Carleton Prestige Scholarship. Her lifelong passion for conservation and biology in boreal systems is reflected in the diverse projects she has been a part of: including long term ecological monitoring, modelling cumulative effects in the Far North of Ontario, and performing aquatic research at the Centre for Northern Forest Ecosystem Research in Thunder Bay. She has advanced ArcMap spatial analysis skills as well as ample field experience, spanning multiple taxa.
Ontario Northern Boreal Field Technician
Jacob is the Field Technician for WCS’s Ontario Northern Boreal Landscape Program. He works closely with members of the lake sturgeon and wolverine research teams as he uses his field skills and scientific background to make science work in remote settings. This includes working side-by-side with First Nations collaborators and local trappers at the various field sites, equipment troubleshooting, contributing to scientific design, and downright getting dirty. Jacob completed a BSc Honours in Environmental Science and Biology at Trent University in 2015, and completed his MSc in Environmental Life Sciences at Trent University in 2019. His thesis research used simulated predation attempts to quantify transgenerational effects of perceived risk in hares. Jacob has worked over seven years in collaboration with Canadian and American universities as an assistant and field coordinator for field-based research. He has extensive experience in the southwestern boreal forest of the Yukon Territory, where he led field crews in the live trapping, biologging, and telemetry tracking of snowshoe hares and Canada lynx. He has also worked in boreal forest field sites across the geographic range of snowshoe hares from Maine to Washington.
Northern Boreal Mountains Program
Don Reid leads our Northern Boreal Mountains landscape program in northwest Canada, having helped establish Wildlife Conservation Society Canada by opening our Whitehorse office in 2004. He coordinates a team of biologists who are pursuing new protected areas through land use planning, improved land and wildlife habitat management policies, collaborations with indigenous governments on mutual conservation interests, and research on focal conservation issues including climate overheating and new road developments. His own field research involves river otters as indicators of aquatic ecosystem health, beavers as agents of change in riparian ecosystems, and spatial scale of forest disturbance as an influence on food webs where snowshoe hares are the dominant trophic species. Don has spent 40 years working as a wildlife biologist in academic, government, and non-government sectors, with an MSc (University of Calgary) and PhD (University of British Columbia). His experiences include Arctic trophic ecology (terrestrial food webs, seabird reproduction), boreal aquatic ecosystems (otter and beaver ecology), trophic ecology of temperate montane forests (eastern Himalaya), integrating wildlife in boreal forest management (numerous species), integrating wildlife conservation in land use planning (coastal rain forests, taiga cordillera, boreal cordillera), and protected areas management (British Columbia, Yukon, China).
Senior Conservation Scientist
John Weaver is a carnivore conservation biologist for WCS based in Missoula, Montana with field programs in the western United States and Canada that are focused on large landscape conservation, wildlife connectivity and adaptation to climate change. Over the past 25 years, John has played many key roles in large carnivore conservation in the United States and Canada. His dissertation research was on the ecology of wolf predation in the high-diversity ungulate environment of Jasper National Park, Alberta. John has held leadership positions with the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on endangered species and has served on several recovery teams, including for both wolves and grizzly bears. Over the years, he has perfected hair snaring techniques for lynx and bear surveys and invented a lynx lure that is now widely used. He has authored more than 20 scientific publications and served as a reviewer for five scientific journals. John has an academic appointment at the University of Montana. He is particularly interested in conservation strategies that address the resiliency mechanisms of vulnerable species.
Associate Conservation Scientist
Hilary Cooke joined WCS Canada in 2010 as Associate Conservation Scientist for the Northern Boreal Mountains landscape of Yukon and northern British Columbia. Here she works with a range of partners, including First Nation, territorial, and federal governments, to enhance conservation of wildlife and wild places through regional planning, environmental assessments, and land, resource, and wildlife management. Hilary specializes in boreal ecology, forest management, avian conservation, and conservation planning. Since 2010, she has led several field and applied studies aimed at improving conservation and management of Yukon’s valley bottoms for key ecosystems, migratory birds, and species of conservation concern. Through relevant government initiatives Hilary continues to promote science-based solutions to improve conservation for wildlife and wild places across Yukon’s boreal mountains. Hilary began her career with WCS as a member of the North America Program in 1998, where she conducted field studies to inform riparian conservation on public and private lands in semi-arid regions of the western United States. After earning a MSc in Wildlife Management at Humboldt State University in 2002, Hilary returned to her native Canada in 2003 to complete a PhD in Ecology at the University of Alberta. Her PhD research aimed to improve forest management for woodpeckers and other cavity users of old boreal forest. Hilary’s passion for birds and conservation can be found in her blogs published on Muddy Boots, Huffington Post, and Medium.
Conservation Planning Biologist
Dr. Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle specializes in understanding the impacts and interactions of climate and land-use change on biodiversity, and translating the implications into conservation planning. Much of her work is focused on developing systematic landscape planning approaches for conserving biodiversity, and working with expert/Indigenous traditional knowledge and empirical data to achieve science-based decisions. She is dedicated to working with First Nations, Governments and NGOs to provide the best available conservation science for policy approaches, land-use planning, and protected area management throughout the northern boreal mountains. Dr. Mantyka-Pringle holds a PhD from the University of Queensland’s Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions in Australia. She has worked for the Queensland State Government as a Research Projects Officer, managing water quality and aquatic ecosystem health. In Canada, she worked on the University of Saskatchewan’s (U of S) Indigenous-community led research programs on the impacts of multiple stressors on River Deltas, and on informing policy and planning processes around species at risk and climate change mitigation. Chrystal received a 2017 Mitacs Research Fellowship and the 2015 Thomson Reuters Citation & Innovation Award for her work. She is an Adjunct Professor of Conservation Biology with the School of Environment and Sustainability at U of S.
Lila is a Research Assistant in Whitehorse, Yukon, where she provides field research and logistical support for both the Northern Boreal Mountains and Western Arctic programs. She is a keen naturalist with diverse interests in animal-habitat associations, landscape ecology and movement patterns and, especially, boreal bird conservation. Lila has a MSc in Wildlife Biology and Conservation from University of Alaska Fairbanks and a BSc in Biology from Humboldt State University (California). Although she is most knowledgeable and passionate about boreal-breeding birds, she has also worked with raptors in Kenya, sheep and wolves in the Rockies, rattlesnakes and plants in the Great Basin desert, amphibians in the California Sierra Nevada mountains, and macaws in the Amazon.
Piia Kortsalo is a Geomatics Specialist, providing GIS analysis and remote sensing support to the WCS Canada Northern Boreal Mountains and Arctic Beringia conservation programs in Whitehorse, Yukon. Piia has a Master's degree in Physical Geography from University of Oulu, Finland, where she used GIS methods to study the effects of boreal landscape structure on the distribution and breeding success of resident songbirds. While studying, she also taught basic and intermediate spatial analysis courses and supported other GIS projects at her university. Prior to joining WCS Canada in 2017, Piia worked as a Geospatial Analyst examining climate data and climate change scenarios for environmental projects in Alaska. Piia also volunteered for a conservation organization providing fieldwork support on a study investigating landscape use by gray wolves and snow leopards in Central Asia.
Lisa Moore is a Geomatics Specialist, providing spatial analysis and remote sensing support for WSC Canada's Northern Boreal Mountains and Arctic Beringia conservation programs. She has worked for over 20 years mapping ecological data for Parks Canada, Alberta Parks, the Yukon Conservation Data Centre, First Nations, and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Lisa has experience both behind the computer and in the field, leading crews to collect ecological monitoring and land classification data, and validating habitat suitability models. She has worked with First Nations in the Northwest Territories to document oral history, traditional knowledge, land use and occupancy mapping. Since 2013 Lisa has operated as a consultant, compiling radio telemetry data and species occurrences to map critical habitat used by rare plants and animals in Canada. Lisa has a diploma in Integrated Resource Management and a post graduate certificate in Geographic Information Systems from Sir Sandford Fleming College.
Western Arctic Program
Associate Conservation Scientist
Dr. Stephen Insley is the WCS Canada Arctic Lead and part of the broader WCS Arctic Beringia program, working on the effects of climate change on Arctic ecosystems and northern communities. He leads two main projects in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region with Inuvialuit partners. The first uses passive acoustics to predict and avoid future shipping impacts through ambient underwater noise monitoring, identifying biologically sensitive areas, and predicting ship noise footprints. The second project collaborates with Inuvialuit communities to monitor seal diet and condition in order to understand ecosystem change and its effect on local food security. His research background has had three general themes: (1) animal acoustic behaviour; (2) the application of behavioural ecology principals and techniques to conservation biology; and (3) conservation through local stewardship. His approach has involved experimental field biology, mostly with pinnipeds and seabirds, and working with remote subsistence communities in a wide variety of field locations including the Bering Sea, the North and South Pacific and the North Atlantic Oceans. He has graduate degrees from the University of California Davis and the University of Victoria, where he is an Adjunct Professor of Biology, as well as Postdoctoral experience at the Smithsonian Institution.
Arctic acoustics program
Arctic Beringia Coordinator
Dr. Martin Robards
is the Director of the WCS's Arctic Beringia Program and has 20 years of Alaska research experience, having worked extensively with indigenous communities and their representatives in the Arctic. Dr. Robards also worked for two years in Washington D.C. at the Marine Mammal Commission, informing policy makers about the challenges of implementing regional-scale policies concerning the conservation of marine mammals in remote subsistence-dominated environments. He has published over 30 scientific articles, served as a reviewer for numerous scientific journals, and is affiliate faculty with the University of Alaska.
Associate Conservation Scientist
Bill is an Associate Conservation Scientist in WCS Canada’s Arctic Beringia Program. He is based in Victoria, and works closely with Dr. Steve Insley in WCS Canada’s Whitehorse office, as well as with Dr. Francis Juanes at the University of Victoria. Bill studies marine mammals and fish in the western Canadian Arctic using passive acoustic monitoring (i.e. underwater listening). He examines how climate change and vessel traffic influence these animals, and is particularly interested in underwater noise pollution and the development of effective marine spatial planning. Bill has a strong background in quantitative ecology, with a specialization on habitat selection and animal behaviour, including four years of experience working at remote field sites in the Arctic on lemmings. Previously, Bill was a post-doctoral fellow with WCS Canada, completed his PhD at the University of Ottawa, and his MSc and BSc at Lakehead University.
Arctic acoustics program
Matt is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Victoria and WCS Canada. Matt’s role is the analysis of passive acoustic data and underwater acoustics modelling, including effects modelling, for studying the potential impacts of vessel noise on the Arctic’s marine mammals and fish. After completing his PhD in Marine Science at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, he worked in industry as an underwater acoustician in New Zealand and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Chinese Academy of Science's Institute of Hydrobiology in China. His postdoctoral fellowship was researching the effects of anthropogenic noise on China’s marine mammals, which included the use of models, passive acoustic monitoring and bioacoustic studies. In New Zealand, he was also on the overall review panel and technical working groups on sound propagation and cumulative exposure, as well as ground-truthing, for the Department of Conservation’s Seismic Code of Conduct Review. He also helps design and implement marine mammal management plans, as well as authoring underwater noise guidelines for regional Councils in New Zealand.
Associate Conservation Scientist
Cori is a bat research and conservation biologist. She completed her PhD in Ecology at the University of Calgary in 2007. Both her Masters and PhD research were on bats, with the former focussing on behaviour and physiology, and the latter on landscape genetics. Cori Lausen joined WCS Canada in 2011 as part of her NSERC Industrial Research and Development Fellowship, investigating winter bat activity and hibernation in western Canada. Her program focuses largely on a science-based response to white-nose syndrome, a catastrophic disease impacting bats in North America, with 3 main tools: inventory and monitoring, disease prevention, and mitigation research.
Bat Program Manager
Jason is responsible for providing management and research support for the bat program from his base in Nelson, British Columbia. Jason joined the WCS team in early 2016 after completing his MSc at Trent University examining the interactions between predation risk and disease exposure in amphibian tadpoles. Jason’s previous experience includes work as a research assistant examining traditional ecological knowledge of polar bear ecology in Northern Quebec, and estimating the local harvest of resources from 5 communities in Northern Labrador. He currently manages WCS Canada’s North American Bat Monitoring Program in British Columbia, focusing on securing knowledge of bat species diversity and relative abundance through wide-scale acoustic monitoring, roost surveillance, and netting inventories. Among other projects, Jason also contributes to the bat team’s work locating and investigating the habitat where bats choose to overwinter, and modelling white-nose syndrome survivorship prior to its arrival in Western Canada.
Associate Director - Wildlife Epidemiology
Sarah Olson joined WCS in 2011 and is currently the Associate Director, Wildlife Epidemiology, for the WCS Health Program. Her portfolio includes research on white-nose syndrome threats to western bats, zoonotic diseases, hammer-headed fruit bat ecology related to spillover risk, and One Health. Her broad research interest focuses on the intersection of wildlife, human, and environmental health. She received a joint PhD in Population Health and Environment & Resources from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and studied how deforestation and climate affect malaria incidence in the Amazon. She has also studied regional landscape drivers of Lyme disease in North America.
As the Conservation Assistant with the Bat Program, Heather works with Dr. Cori Lausen to understand the distribution and winter ecology of bats in Alberta and British Columbia. Heather holds a BSc in Biology from the University of Victoria. Before joining WCS Canada in 2014, Heather worked for several years as the head grower for a leading forest nursery.
As Program Coordinator with the WCS Canada Western Bat Research Program, Dana provides research and logistical support to our bat team. Dana has a BSc in Environmental Science from the University of Manitoba specializing in applied ecology and over 20 years experience in non-profit conservation biology work in Canada. Most recently, Dana worked as Manager of Science and Conservation Planning for the Nature Conservancy of Canada-Alberta Region implementing the Nature Area Conservation Plan program.
Associate Conservation Scientist
Kelly leads the Wildlife Conservation Society Bison Program in its effort to restore wild, free-ranging bison to tribal lands in the American West. Kelly’s work focuses on human-wildlife conflict, applied conservation research, strategic communication, and organizational efficiency, and has taken her to Tanzania, Botswana, and Namibia. Kelly completed her Master of Environmental Science at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and her Bachelor of Arts in Communication at Villanova University. From 2011 to 2012 Kelly held a Fulbright Fellowship to Botswana, and she has been honored with awards from the National Science Foundation, Villanova University, and the Philadelphia Zoo. Kelly was a fellow in the 2015 – 2016 class of Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders.
Global Corals Program
Emily Darling is a marine ecologist and conservation biologist motivated to find conservation solutions for coral reef ecosystems and the societies they support. Emily is currently a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow at the University of North Carolina where she is leading a large collaboration of scientists to identify climate refuges for coral diversity in the Indo-Pacific. She also leads a global coral reef fisheries monitoring initiative with WCS Marine to promote shared monitoring tools and data management for improved fisheries outcomes. Emily completed her PhD at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada where she won the Governor General's Gold Medal for distinction in doctoral research. She was a recent plenary speaker at the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress and will be featured in the journal Nature on moving towards effective protected areas at the World Parks Congress. Find out more by following her on Twitter @emilysdarling or at her website
Photo credits: Banner | William Halliday © WCS Canada